Jason Reynolds transforms love, hope, and promise, into powerful words and characters. We readers are helpless to resist embracing his realities, be they windows or mirrors.
Patina is a coming of age novel about a young girl learning to find or make her place in the world. It is the second in Reynolds' Track series for elementary and middle grade students. Ghost is the first. The novels address the lives of members of a track team. It looks like they are companion books rather than series since so far, it doesn't seem necessary to read them in order, although readers learn more about the coaches in the first book. Every school library should have at least one copy of each of these in their collection!
Through the team, members learn important lessons about how to help each other be their best selves both on and off the field. Patty Winters, (Patina) is one of the runners who has a lot to run away from. All too often it seems like she has taken the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is trying to adjust to going to a prestigious, high falutin, charter school. Navigating her way through this social and academic quagmire is stressful. She takes on responsibility for her younger sister who she loves deeply. While she is reliable and dependable, she has a temper that she tamps down inside of her. She also has an unhealthy obsession with winning.
Patty's father died just before her younger sister, Maddy was born. Their mother is unable to look after them. Due to complications from diabetes, she lost her legs and has kidney disease. Patty and Maddy live with their aunt and uncle. While their lives are complicated, they are surrounded by smart, caring adults.
I am infatuated with Reynolds capacity to write such authentically rich and complex characters. It isn't just that he crafts remarkable protagonists, although he does indeed. It's that all the secondary characters are equally full and interesting. As a reader I want to know more about all of them, from the members on the track team to the students at Patty's new school.
I can hardly wait to read Sunny's story next!
Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for an ARC of this book. It will be published August 29th, 2017. Mark your calendar.
If you haven't read Ghost, you will want to purchase it as well!